At least all the elements are there for this series to have interesting music choices each week. Not only is The O.C. creator Josh Schwartz helming it (along with O.C. cohort Stephanie Savage) but he's also got Alexandra Patsavas on board as the music supervisor (folks may recognize her television credits from my posts Mad Men, The O.C., Rescue Me, Grey's Anatomy).
From what I'd heard ahead of time, though, it's like they divided The O.C. into two and the parts that I was drawn to -- the humor, cultural references, and yes, music -- ended up with Chuck, and the soap-y drama was left for GG. So I adjusted (lowered) my expectations accordingly and last night GG pretty much met it.
Patsavas has a knack for finding the voice of the series and basing the music choices on that character. For Seth Cohen it was indie rock, for Meredith Grey it's chick rock (with a hint of dark and twisty), but for Gossip Girl it's a bit of a mystery. The only things we know about the voice of the show is it's a teenage girl in Manhattan (and that she's voiced in our heads by Veronica Mars' Kristen Bell). As a result, the music is slanted more to popular music then anything Patsavas has had her hands on thus far. So, popular songs at the time they shot the pilot – like ones by Rihanna, Justin Timberlake, Akon and Timberland – are sprinkled throughout the episode.
Luckily, the Cohen family in this series (the Humphreys) seems like they'd be listening to something a little more off the beaten path. Dad was is still in a band (Lincoln Hawk, the name of Sly Stone's character in the cult classic Over the Top) and son Dan seems to be willing to go his own way. That's why I think the show can open with the whistling of Peter Bjorn & John's "Young Folks." The lyrics also let us in on a secret:
...we don't care about the old folks
Talkin' 'bout the old style too
And we don't care about our own folks
Talkin' 'bout our own stuff...
Unlike The O.C., this series doesn't really have too much for folks pushing 40 like myself. Much like the young adult novels by Cecily von Ziegesar the show is based on, the parents seemingly have no importance, and Schwartz isn't really throwing us any bones (well, there is the Over the Top reference and a character named Nate Archibald). Instead, we're left with incredibly privileged kids drinking martinis, smoking pot while living in a nearly parent-free Manhattan. Speaking of that, it was a nice touch to have some indie NY-centric songs in the mix like Cold War Kids' "Hang Me Out to Dry" and the very appropriate "Hard To Live In The City" by The Strokes' Albert Hammond Jr.
Beyond that, the use of Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black" was nice, and I can see that whole album getting used a bit given drama the of the series. A part of me really wants to complain about the mix here, but in the end, it matches up with the content, and that's all you can ask of Patsavas. The show is obviously not for me, so I shouldn't expect the music to be as well.
Note: Since my wife will be watching, I'll check in from time to time. But it won't be a weekly thing, I'm afraid (happy) to report.
Playlist: Gossip Girl - Pilot
1. "Something To Believe In" - Aqualung - series theme song
2. "Young Folks" - Peter Bjorn and John - opens the episode
3. "If It's Lovin That You Want" - Part 2 - Rihanna
11. "Go" - Hanson